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Birdemic: Shock and Terror
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by Jaycie

"Rhymes with"
1 stars

In my review of Y.K. Kim's Miami Connection, I alluded to a subculture of moviegoers who intentionally seek out the worst indie movies ever made just to make jokes about them. It's fair to say that Mystery Science Theater 3000 planted the seed of this subculture, but it's been thriving on its own ever since. Among we happy few, we band of bashers, there is a continuous dispute about which of six or seven movies in particular is truly the worst. Birdemic is guaranteed to be one of those six or seven every time.

There's only so much a critic can say about a movie in which everything, and I do mean everything, is terrible, because the English dictionary contains only so many synonyms for "terrible." In fact, Birdemic and its ilk should not be critiqued so much as studied and catalogued, like a previously undiscovered mollusk. The standards of normal movies simply do not apply here. However, Z-grade movies have their own standards, and Birdemic meets every last one, starting with #1: self-important creator. Director/writer James Nguyen is not half as much of a swaggering asshole as, say, Tommy Wiseau, but he truly does believe that Birdemic imparts wisdom about world peace and the environment. And even without being bathed in incompetent filmmaking, his messaging – essentially, global warming is bad and world peace is nice – is about as wise as a misspelled hashtag.

That brings us to #2: nonsensical plot. Our "hero" is Rod (Alan Bagh), aptly named because he has either an aluminum pole in his colon or in lieu of his spine, as you will accept as a possibility the first time you see him walk on camera. He is a call centre software salesman with everything going for him: his company has gone public, the solar energy company he founds with his stock options gets VC funding immediately afterward, he owns a hybrid Mustang five years before a hybrid Mustang exists, and he attracts the affections of model Nathalie (Whitney Moore), even though a real-life model would brush him off within a microsecond. Of course, a real-life model wouldn't do shoots at a one-hour photo studio, either, nor would that kind of portfolio land her a Victoria's Secret gig, but that's the least of the #3: WTF details we're about to see.

Anyway, after consummating their love at the world's greasiest motel (#4: unrealistic sets), Rod and Nathalie wake up to the screeches of scores of #5: entry-level CGI eagles outside their window, clawing at the faces of any unfortunate human in their path. That is, when they're not bombing them with acidic goo to the tune of #6: inexplicable sound effects – to wit, the sound of dropping bombs. Rod and Nathalie hit the road to . . . escape? Solve the mystery of the birds? Collect as many cooler-sized bottles of water as they can find, as if they're on a video game side quest? It's never really clear. But they encounter numerous other victims and learn a few #7: bad science lessons along the way.

Birdemic is marketed as a romantic thriller, which in itself should get Nguyen busted by the Federal Trade Commission for false advertising. The "romance" between Rod and Nathalie is weighed down by untold quantities of #8: awful acting. As good as both of them look before they open their mouths, they have no chemistry whatsoever, least of all when they're supposed to be engaged in foreplay. Moore is the only member of the cast with enough talent for a non-speaking role in a zit cream commercial, and that's being generous. Bagh, on the other hand, is such a stiff that I'm still not certain if he was in the early stages of rigor mortis throughout shooting. A short film he helmed in 2014 hilariously required him to walk for seven straight minutes, which is kind of like casting Brian Blessed in a role requiring him to keep his voice down.

But none of this is Bagh and Moore's fault, exactly. Nobody could save the #9: child-grade script provided by Nguyen. He seems to understand how humans talk well enough in post-mortem interviews, but you wouldn't know it from how he has humans talk in his movie. It's simply impossible to deliver this stuff ("Hey, look, a fishing rod! I can go catch some fish!") in a non-stilted way. There is a certain line in the third act that my fiancé and I have adopted as a code for when one of us needs to go to the bathroom. I won't tell you what that line is, but you'll figure it out soon enough once you hear it.

Appropriately enough, the script is matched by #10: inexperienced directing. And when I say "inexperienced," I mean to express doubt that Nguyen had ever operated any kind of camera before making this movie. Anyone in possession of a cell phone is better at the most rudimentary shot composition than the poor schmuck this guy recruited to handle the cinematography. That this was inspired by The Birds is enough to make Hitchcock spin hard enough in his grave to power a nuclear reactor.

Now all of the criteria we've covered so far are pretty fundamental for a Z-grade movie. It's topped off with #11: a pointless and lousy musical number brought to us by Damien Carter, a James Nguyen regular. (Yes, he made Birdemic II, and the song Carter performs in the sequel is actually even worse.) Imagine the first five minutes of a Tyler Perry movie in song form, played over two white people dancing as whitely as they can, and you have this scene. It's magical.

If you've read this far into the review, you are most likely a newcomer to Z-grade movies checking if Birdemic lives up to the hype and, yes, it most certainly does. If you are literally anyone else, it's just not worth it. Flee in shock and terror.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=20707&reviewer=432
originally posted: 07/09/16 01:49:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2010 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

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USA
  N/A (NR)
  DVD: 22-Feb-2011

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  James Nguyen

Written by
  James Nguyen

Cast
  Alan Bagh
  Whitney Moore
  Janae Caster
  Colton Osborne
  Rick Camp
  Eric Swartz



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